Tue | Jan 23, 2018

US commits to helping police force

Published:Tuesday | February 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
In this file photo, Lieutenant Ed Calatayud (left) of the Pasadena Police Department gives an illustration of police force to Sgt Dave Foreman during a Less-Than-Lethal Training-of-Trainers Course at the National Police College of Jamaica, Twickenham Park, St Catherine.

Commitment has come from the United States (US) Embassy in Kingston that it will continue to do all it can to assist Jamaica, especially in the area of national security.

Deputy chief of mission at the United States Embassy, Eric Khant, recently stated that Jamaica's security was very important to the US and to the island itself.

He was speaking at last week's handover ceremony of 200 patrol bicycles, a driving simulator and a firearms simulator to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). The items were all procured in the US and by the government of that country.

"We at the embassy will continue to do everything that we can to assist Jamaica and its wonderful people. We will continue to invest in this partnership because a strong, well-trained and well-equipped JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) is important for a secure Jamaica. And to be honest, a secure Jamaica is in our own national interest (as Americans)," Khant stated.

Jamaica and the United States have shared 55 years of diplomatic relations, which has seen Jamaica receiving years of assistance in various forms.

In Khant's view, the relationship has only grown stronger and stronger.

"In recent years, thousands of our police officers have trained together, here in Jamaica and in the US. In 2016 alone, we saw the donation of US$4 million from the US to Jamaica, mainly the law enforcement and criminal justice sector. This partnership has included, just in the past year, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of training of JCF officers. Just five months ago, we marked the donation of 7,000 sets of less-than-lethal equipment to the JCF and the provision of the necessary training," Khant said.

He continued: "There is a million-dollar US polygraph facility which is a standing symbol of the strong partnership between the JCF, the US and Canadian governments. Along with our extensive training and equipment partnership, we are working to reduce the number of lethal police encounters.

"Just yesterday (last week Wednesday), we met with Michael Lee-Chin and we spoke about how security impacts economic growth, but if you think about it, security impacts everything, so if don't have security, basically it is very difficult to accomplish anything else."